Here’s a nasty, juicy rumor to mull-over on your holiday weekend: Microsoft will be pricing Windows 7 higher than Vista, making it the costliest OS the company has ever released, on average. Mix in news of the limiting specs that Microsoft allows for netbooks, and that rumor sounds even worse.
The pricing rumor comes from a pretty reputable source. The key words belong to Dell marketing exec Darrel Ward: “I can tell you that the licensing tiers at retail are more expensive than they were for Vista.” Ward, who you may think to be intrinsically pro-Microsoft, given his employer, also notes that “Schools and government agencies may not be able to afford” the new OS, and “Some of the smaller businesses may not be able to enjoy the software as soon as they’d like.”
It’s very bad news for everyone if true. Many businesses are tied to Microsoft-powered PCs due to legacy purchasing, and clearly millions of people are looking forward to the power benefits of the next-gen OS…which it now appears will cost them a lot more. It’s bad news for Microsoft too, if it makes consumers turn away from the famously penny-pinching software giant, driving them to buy a Linux-powered netbook, or even a Mac.
There’s another piece of news today that ties into this: Microsoft’s revealed the maximum specifications of netbooks allowed to carry it’s entry-level (and hence cheapest) Windows 7 versions. Specifically, processors are limited to single-core at 2GHz, RAM to just 1GB and the max storage is a 250GB HDD. Worse, for some makers of netbook/notebook crossovers, the screen is limited to 10.2 inches. While you can debate the blurred line between some netbooks and notebooks, these specs make for a machine that’s not all that amazing. Basically it means high-end netbooks will only be licensed for the higher versions of Win7, which will push up their cost…and remember, the lowest Starter edition for netbooks is limited to running three apps at the same time.
What is Microsoft thinking? Clearly it faces a tricky problem: You’ve got to price your product high enough that you turn in a shiny penny on sales, but low enough, and on powerful enough computers, that your customers are pleased–particularly when your previous effort was so very bad. But to limit the specs of netbooks, and then release an OS that will only push up the price of a PC…that’ll undo all the good the recent Apple-ridiculing ad campaign has done. Please say it’s not so Microsoft?